Discrimination of Immigrants in 1920's America

Discrimination of Immigrants in 1920's America

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Discrimination of Immigrants in 1920's America


Beginning in the early nineteenth century there were massive waves
of immigration. These "new" immigants were largely from Italy, Russia, and
Ireland. There was a mixed reaction to these incomming foreigners. While
they provided industries with a cheap source of labor, Americans were both
afraid of, and hostile towards these new groups. They differed from the
"typical American" in language, customs, and religion. Many individuals
and industries alike played upon America's fears of immigration to further
their own goals. Leuchtenburg follows this common theme from the
beginning of World War I up untill the election of 1928.

If there was one man who singlely used America's fear of
immigrants to advance his own political goals it was Attorney General
Palmer. The rise of Communism in Russia created a fear of its spread
across Europe, and to America. Palmer tied this fear to that of
immigration. He denounced labor unions, the Socialist party, and the
Communist party in America, as being infultrated with radicals who sought
to overturn America's political, economic, and social institutions.
Palmer exasperated this fear in Americans and then presented himself as
the country's savior, combatting the evils of Communism. He mainly
centered his attack on Russian immigrants. During the infamous Palmer
raids thousands of aliens were deported and even more were arrested on
little or no evidence. Their civil liberties were violated, they were not
told the reasons for their arrests, denied counsel, and not given fair
trials. What followed was an investigation of Palmer led by Louis Post
which overturned many of Palmer's actions. Palmer's cretability was
shattered after in a last minute attempt to gain the 1920 presidencial
nomination, he made predictions about a May Day radical uprising, the
nation perpared itself, but on May 1st 1920 all was peaceful. While the
raids had stopped, the hostilities towards immagrants still remained
prevelent.

Immigrants were used by organized industries as a source of cheap
labor. But as labor unions began to form and push for better pay, shorter
hours, and improved working conditions industries saw that it was not as
easy to exploit these immigrants as it had been before. Like Palmer, they
tied the American's hostilities towards immigrants to the newly emerging
fear of radicalism. When workers struck, industry leaders turned public
opinion agains them by labling the strikes as attemps at radical uprising.
As a result, workers were often left with no other choice than to accept
the terms of industry management. The fight for prohabition was aided by
America's antagonism for immigrants.

Protestants and "old-stock" Americans attempted to link alchol

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with Catholic-Irish and Italian immigrants. They were viewed as immoral
and corrupt for their vice. Prohabition was a means of counterattacking
the evils of the urban cities and their immigrant dwellers. In addition,
the rise of the KKK was a direct result of the hostilities harbored
towards the immigrant population. Started by native born, white,
Protestants, the KKK was afraid of "the encroachment of foreigners,"
expecially those who answered to a foreign Pope as their religious
authority. Playing upon these fears, the KKK gained support and was it's
members were able to politically control parts of Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas,
and much of Indiana.
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